Aboriginal chiefs in Canada are blaming climate change for water and food shortages on their reserves this winter.
Isolated reserves in northern Ontario rely on ice roads to transport supplies in the winter, but warmer weather means those roads haven’t frozen yet, so food and water are in short supply.
“Everything you can imagine,” Rosemary McKay, Chief of Bearskin Lake First Nation, told VICE News. “They’re running out of food and anything they need in their home. Sugar, tea, flour, you name it.”
Bearskin Lake First Nation’s winter road is typically thick enough at this time of year for trucks to cross, but the ice is unseasonably thin and only skidoos are able to make the crossing right now.
Because it lacks a year-round access road, in the warmer months, water, food, fuel and other supplies are flown into Bearskin Lake. That also makes them more expensive to buy at the community’s northern store. People look forward to the winter months when these supplies are transported over the winter road, making them cheaper, McKay explained.
“I’m really concerned with everything that’s happening,” McKay said about the condition of the winter road. “We shouldn’t even have to buy water.”
The thinness of the ice road is exacerbating the existing problem of lack of clean water in Bearskin Lake. Like 93 other First Nations across Canada, excluding British Columbia, they are currently under “boil water” and “do not consume” advisories, meaning they rely on bottled water deliveries.
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